Posts Tagged ‘Deptford’

Monument to Peter the Great in Glaisher Street, Deptford

April 24, 2011

Monument to Peter the Great

As is well-known, Peter the Great lived in Deptford for some months in 1698–in fact, he lived in the house of John Evelyn the diarist, and made a pretty good job of wrecking it–while he was studying the craft of shipbuilding in the Royal Dockyards which were then located there.  And (as can be seen above) there is indeed a monument to his stay, placed between Greenfell Mansions and the river.

A dwarf-cum-jester

In his book Russkiy London (Russian London), S. K. Romaniuk expresses his displeasure with this ensemble:

It was produced by the sculptor Mikhail Shemyakin, ‘famous’ for the crowd of monsters of one kind or another that he donated to Moscow and are erected in Bolotnaya Ploshchad, and the disgraceful figure of Tsar Peter in the Petropavlovsk Fortress in Petersburg.  Both these monuments aroused the ire of the inhabitants, both of Moscow and Petersburg.

…in a row there stand a rounded dwarf-cum-jester, for some reason with navigational instruments in his hands (the sculptor is perhaps emphasising that these maritime instruments were just a jester’s plaything) then an elongated statue of Peter with proportions distorted and, to the right of him, a chair with a high back….All of this seemed too little to the sculptor, and for some unknown reasons he added a pair of cannon besides.

Looks like the typical kind of statue you see everywhere in Russia these days–not as large as the ones in Moscow, and not nearly as numerous as those in Ulyanovsk.

Probably I need to take some pictures in the morning when the thing’s in the sunlight.

Dartford Art Tour 06 February

February 6, 2010


Four clients came under starter’s orders at Greenwich railway station, and our charming and energetic guide first of all led us to the Goth on Bus gallery, where the gallery boss’s flatmate told us about the Incidents exhibition (there’s a review here).  We viewed a small number of enigmatic exhibits arranged around the periphery of your typical white-painted gallery space:

A typically modest exhibit (from

We decided that something was being challenged, but where not quite sure whether it was the gallery space or the very notion of art.  Then we proceeded to the Viewfinder Photography Gallery, to view a collection of photographs by Karen Grainger, like the one below:

The artist herself happened to be present, and explained that the photographs were taken by on the Isle of Wight with the aid of a mirror, so that the picture comprised the ‘real’ view in front merged with what was behind.  We thought that this was good–it queried the idea of photography as mere representation and emphasised that the photograph was a thing in itself.

Then we made our was to deepest Deptford (not nearly as deep as it used to be) and the Arch Gallery, where we saw an exhibition of paintings by Nicholas Middleton, like the following:

The owner, Paul Marks, was on hand and explained that Middleton worked from photographs which he either combined or rearranged, and then gridded up and turned into paintings.  I must admit that the question ‘Why?’ did occur to me–this kind of hyper-realism is surely associated with either the Fascists or the 1970s, neither of which is a great recommendation.  Then some Japanese visitors arrived, and we were able to browse the artists’ materials store attached (our purchases amounted to one Stanley knife in total).

Our next port of call was BEARSPACE, where the director Julia Alvarez kindly entertained us to tea (or coffee) and cake and explained that the Japanese people we had seen were officials from Tokyo, here to learn about regeneration-through-art.  We discussed the fact that an enormous number of local buildings (including the one at the bottom of my garden) had been turned into artists’ premises.  Our guide made the point that the recession had a good side for artists since spaces became available after development had fallen through.

We somehow failed to form an opinion of the Trevor Kiernander exhibition here:

We went past the very interesting-looking Waldron Health Centre

and on to the Old Police Station, which had been turned into studios used by ex-offenders and other marginalised and creative people, as a woman smoking a cigarette outside the men’s toilets told us.

Picture of Old Police Station from

And finally it was a fairly long walk to Lewisham Arthouse, where we saw an exhibition of very diverse Objects of Love produced by artists working in the building.

Objects of Love image from

And that was the end of a very rewarding way of spending a Saturday afternoon in and around Deptford!